What Charicles Knew: Fragmentary Narration and Ambiguity in Heliodorus' Aethiopica


  • Benedek Kruchió


This paper discusses a passage from the finale of Heliodorus' Aethiopica which has hitherto been interpreted as suggesting that Charicles, the heroine's foster-father, possesses information which he should not hold according to earlier parts of the novel. Offering two solutions to the Charicles puzzle, this article sheds light on important narratological characteristics of Heliodorus' novel: firstly, the Aethiopica opens itself to a 'completive mode of reading', which prompts the reader to speculate about unnarrated parts of the story; secondly, profound ambiguities can trigger chain reactions of alternative readings which reach far into parts of the plot that are connected with the ambiguous segment.

Having completed degrees in Classics at the University of Vienna and Humboldt University Berlin, Benedek Kruchió is now a PhD student at the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge, and a Gates Cambridge Scholar. His doctoral thesis will analyse processes of information transfer in Heliodorus' Aethiopica. Besides the Greek novels, he is interested in the afterlife of ancient literature and has published on the reception of Homer in Hungarian fiction and of Plato in Russian film.